Wednesday, February 20, 2013

what holds us together

20130220_221846He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.

He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Colossians 1:15-20

20130220_221457Yesterday evening, for the first time in almost a year, I picked up my Christmas quilt.  I have been thinking of it for about a week or so and wanted to get it out of its resting place and begin working on it again.  While I was sitting there trying to get the stitches to come out even, my grandma came to mind.  For years growing up, I watched her and my mom and my aunts quilt.  I laughed to myself that I should probably turn this wallhanging over to my aunt if I ever hope to finish it for a Christmas some day.
This morning, I found out that the very same day I picked up that quilting project, Grandma Miller went to sleep and has been unresponsive since then.  Seemingly resting peacefully, but the Dr.'s are saying it's a matter of days.
I do not think it was simply a coincidence that I was motivated that very day to pick up and continue to work on my quilt.  I have a wonderful memory of growing up with an awesome grandmother.  This quilt will forever hold her memory close.  It was time I carried on a family tradition...in her honor.
My quilting leaves much to be desired, but looking at those stitches holding the blocks together reminds me...
God goes before us and hems us in.
"You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me."  Psalm 139:5
 He inspires us.
"I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me."  Jeremiah 32:40
He holds us together.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

loving with an open hand

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A little chickadee flew into our picture window the other morning.  We all heard the boom as he hit the glass.  Tim was the first to see his little body lying on the ground.  With his voice filled with concern, Tim called out that he saw him and was going out to help him.  I joined Tim outside...just in case.  It was a crazy loud boom, afterall.
I was holding my breath as I bent down toward the little fellow.  With Tim right beside me, waiting to get his chance to see the state bird of Maine up close and personal, I was so thankful to see the twinkling little eye looking back up at me.  Although it was apparent he was still stunned and possibly in shock from the impact, he was alive.  His tiny chest rising and falling with each breath.
Tim and I began talking very soothingly to Chick Jr., so lovingly named by my little softie.  No idea of the "Jr." part, but that is beside the point.  He had landed in some weeds (who let those grow in the flower bed??).  It was crazy how light and fragile CJ seemed.  Hard to imagine that he could survive a terrible crash into an unforgiving window.
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But he did. And seemed to be coming around even more with each passing minute.  We picked him up, weeds and all, at first.  As he began looking around and seemingly more coherent, the boys and I worked to get his feet untangled from the weeds.  Alex had joined in on the rescue and helped me break off the weeds one by one to get the bird free.
With the removal of the last blade that his claw had clasped onto, I was able to pick up CJ and hold him gingerly in my hands.  His little feet grabbed onto my finger, not hurting me, but definitely telling a story that he was afraid and unsure of his footing.  He sat with his eyes closed some.  He did not move or try to fly away.  He never flinched when we petted his pretty black head.
20130212_100051We all had our turns at holding him.  Hands open as to not hold on too tightly and harm him further, he willingly sat there for us to coo at and coddle over for a few minutes.
As his wits returned to him, I was sure he would flap his wings and fly off to the nearest branch away from harm's way.
He stayed.  Seemingly content.  Not fearful of being contained or stifled.
I had to pick up his little feet and place them one by one on a branch from a bush nearby where he had fallen.  He sat there and allowed us to continue to pet him and talk to him...and take pictures, of course.
Later that evening I was watching a movie and a woman was describing how her mom had told her once it was best to love with an open hand.  Not holding on too tightly, as to crush and smother, but granting the freedom to grow and experience life on one's own goes hand in hand with always providing support and a safe place to land when the one you love needs it.
The image of CJ sitting on our open hands flashed in my memory.  How fitting it was to hear that analogy.  Had we held on to CJ we could have injured him more.  Had we chosen to hover over him and put him in a cage for our very own, we would have stolen the freedom in being what God created him to be...a wild bird.  We had loved him with open hands.  When the time came, I even had to place him on a branch by himself when he was too content being in my hand.
With that came a few concerns about what would happen to him after he flew away.  With that also came a few happy thoughts that he'd stay close by and keep coming to our bird feeder for a few more days.  With our open hands came the freedom to be a bird who could do what birds do.  Fly.
He sat on that branch for quite awhile as we sat and watched him.  He jumped a couple of times, flapped his wings, and began twitching his head more like that of a bird who did not just slam into a closed window.  We had to trust that he would be okay as we walked away and went on with our day.
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When we arrived home, he was gone from the branch.  There was no pile of little birdie feathers beneath the bush (thankfully!).  He had made it off the bush!  Way to go, Chick Jr.!
I want to be one who loves with an open hand.  As God directs me, I want to lead my boys and others by example to follow Him while supporting, giving encouragement, and offering a lending hand when asked to or needing to.  However, also allowing for growth and movement outside of my control, not sheltering too much or overprotecting.  Then I want to celebrate the victories and successes with them and discuss the failures and how to learn from them.
These next few years will be a time of learning this art of open handed loving as my boys grow older.  With God's help, I know we can make it through.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I so miss this...sigh...






something more

I saw a post from The MOB Society (Mothers of Boys) on dreaming with my sons, not for them.  Very powerful and insightful words from Lisa Whittle...
"Because, I realized…it is never a mother’s job to dream for her kids. It is her privilege to get to dream with them."
I desire for my boys to realize that life is about living, not conforming.
Just look at Jesus.
Jesus is the Hero of all heroes.  Especially where non-conformity is concerned.
After all, He was and is perfect.  He thought outside the box.  He was not at all what the people expected as (or even wanted for) a king but, yet, He is the King of Kings.
He grew up a carpenter's son on Earth...yet, He sits on the throne in Heaven.
Jesus had years of doing the ordinary before the extraordinary began getting others' attention.
Isn't life often just like that?
Years drag on while the ordinary surrounds us.  All of those things we have to do when we are young...all the expectations of how things should be done and when.  Everything all figured out for us by people who cannot fathom our dreams.
I remember dreaming of doing things that were out of the ordinary for my day.  I often wondered what was wrong with me that the normal was not fulfilling for me.  I felt empty, but saw so many around me seemingly full and overflowing.  I could not define the longing, I just knew it existed.  There were days I remember praying to God to just make me normal like everyone else.  Make the ordinary enough for me.  
Praise God that His answer to some prayers is "NO!"!

As I do my part in raising my boys, my prayer is to open their eyes and hearts to things out of the ordinary.  Walking with them, sharing dreams, living life, working hard...all to find the "something more" that God has for them.
And, for me.

My prayer for my boys is also, that, in seeking God's will for their lives, they find their dreams fulfilled in His desires for them.  Then, and only then, will satisfaction overflow in their hearts and lives.
How do I know?

In 2008, I found myself as a wife, mother, and youth group leader, still with a longing for something more, asking God point blank one day, "Is this all there is for me?"  I was at a point in my life where all my dreams had come true, but I did not want to settle into a comfy zone.  I longed for more of Him and His awesomeness.  I wanted Him to pour into me something so totally new and out of the ordinary and out of my comfort zone that it would be very evident it was from Him.  I did not want to miss out on what could be for me by being satisfied with where I was.
I challenge you to ask God this with caution, for He will answer that prayer in ways that will amaze you!
That summer I found myself in Alaska for the first time.  This summer, Lord willing, I will find myself serving there for the sixth time.
God is so awesomely good that He fulfills dreams you do not even know you have.
My prayer for my boys goes on to ask for His inspiration to be what the boys thrive in and look for as they set out to reach goals and dream of what could be in their future.
This brings Jeremiah 29:13-14a to mind...
"'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you' - this is the Lord’s declaration..."
Oh, that I will search for Him with all my heart while leading and helping my boys to do the same!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

the greatest of these


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Through my boys, Jesus teaches me about...
Love.
Laughter.
Joy.
Confidence.
Wrinkles.
Happiness.
Mercy.
Sore muscles.
Memories.
Fun!
Pain.
Adventure.
Forgiveness.
Excitement.
Nerves.
Faith.
Experience.
Loyalty.
Intrigue.
Smiles.
Thankfulness.
Imagination.
Adoration.
Aggravation.
Truth.
Peace.
Friendship.
Snuggles.
Exhilaration.
Reckless abandon.
Patience.
Belief.
Promises.
Integrity.
Gratefulness.
But the greatest of these is Love.

Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the Lord, the God of Hosts,
will be with you, as you have claimed.
Amos 5:14 NLT


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

catching up 2...

After our visit with family in So. IN, we headed to the great not-so-white North for Bible Memory winter camp.  A weekend of worshiping God, seeing familiar friends who are like family (and meeting new ones), games, and pine car races!

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This scene was the inspiration for my pine car design.
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Fastest moving glacier ever.  :)

It was great to be back!
An awesome way to begin our year...Jesus, friends, and BMC!

catching up...

January held great times for such a long, winterish month...
Spent a few days in southern IN with my family...with snow on the ground!  It was melting fast, but we made the most of it while we could.

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We have had our snow fix...now, bring on SPRING!  

Friday, February 1, 2013

not for the faint at heart

Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5
There are a few things in life that I have learned over the years.  Things you can never know until you have experienced them personally.  More and more, I realize that without God, I really can do nothing.
Absolutely nothing.
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. 
John 15:5
The good news is that the exact opposite is true, too.  With God, I can do more than I ever imagined possible.  These things, however, are not for the faint at heart.  Not at all.
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think 
according to the power that works in us -
to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21
What tops my list?
Being a true, talk it/walk it Christian.
Being single in a married world.
Getting married.
Being married.
Having children.
Raising children.
Becoming a morning person.
Wallpapering.
Selling a home with toddlers afoot.
Renovating an older home.
Moving.
Selling a home with preteens while building a home across town.
Changing churches.
Keeping friendships going across many miles.
Fitting in.
Giving without expecting in return.
Being yourself.
Saying goodbye.
Growing older.
A few of my things, I will choose to never do again....like wallpapering and remodeling an older home.  Been there, done that.
Some will not present themselves to me again as they have in the past.
The remaining others are in an ever going status that I do not want to give up on in life.
All in all, they were and are all worth it in the end.  Lessons learned.  Life enriched.
In the process of daily living, life happens.  Some days seem so much longer than others...the not-so-good along with the good.
It's in this life happening stage that I realize if I were to receive all that I deserve, it would be so much less than I am blessed with.
To keep on going in the hard times...in the confusing times...even in the good times...is not for the faint at heart.  But, with God, it is possible.  He is so good!